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    Thursday, September 17, 2020

    #CafePuro: Our G1 Climax 30 Predictions

    NJPW G1 Climax 30

    Welcome to Smark Henry's G1 Climax 30 initial predictions article. Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was really slated to the fall of 2020 due to the Olympics. However, the world changed when COVID-19 made everything stop.

    Although the G1 was already slated for the fall, the pandemic made it difficult for foreigners to enter Japan. That issue is a whole topic on its own that goes beyond wrestling.

    Questions & Answers

    Questions popped up last month when New Japan declared that the G1 was pushing through. Could the foreign talent enter Japan? What kind of re-entry process will they have to go through? The question is important because in order to re-enter the country, the wrestlers have to fulfill certain conditions. Now those conditions are unbelievably convoluted so I'll just share a link to an article that attempts to explain the immigration issues.

    As the announcement of competitors drew closer and closer, the wrestlers themselves began teasing the possibilities. Could we see Tomoaki Honma participate in the G1 despite his injuries? Naito teased the idea during the New Japan Road tour, but it turns out that Naito was just making fun of Honma and his crushed larynx.

    "G1...mumble...mumble...mumble."

    Now that's out of the way, let's talk about the tournament itself. As Baron Yamazaki's booming voice began to unveil the different names of participants, the tension was high to know if the foreign-based talents would appear or not. 

    The first domino would fall with some of last year's snubs entering the field. The King Minoru Suzuki was announced as an entrant in the A Block along with Yujiro Takahashi, another big surprise. YOSHI-HASHI would be announced as an entrant in the B Block.
     
    Some fans didn't like the choice of Yujiro in the tournament, but I think it's a good thing. The legitimate contenders need a day off with a quick match. I'd like to think Yujiro is tasked with giving the A Block wrestlers that light match while Yano will do the same in the B Block.

    I was expecting someone like Bad Luck Fale or Toa Henare to take up Yujiro's slot in the A Block, but New Zealand's travel ban prevents them from leaving the country.

    What I wasn't expecting was the announcement of Juice Robinson entering the B Block. Japan just started opening its border in late August for foreign workers and students, among many others. Somehow NJPW was finally able to get a few wrestlers back from abroad. 

    The biggest surprise in the B Block was the fact that KENTA was part of the tournament. With KENTA's inclusion in the tournament it seemed like it was inevitable we would see Jay White and Will Ospreay return as well. The dust settled with Juice Robinson, KENTA, Will Ospreay, and Jay White being announced as the returning foreign wrestlers who miraculously made it for the G1 Climax 30. 

    In this case, we basically got the essential foreign-based wrestlers needed for the tournament.

    The Schedule

    G1 Climax 30 will run from September 18 in Edion Arena Osaka all the way to October 18 in Ryogoku Kokugikan.

    Unlike the usual G1 tourneys, this year's G1 won't have too many preliminary matches. Shows will start with one Young Lion match and proceed to the main G1 matches. I can only imagine what life will be like for the Young Lions on this grueling tour. These rookies don't just compete, they also help set up and break down the ring every night. The competitors are going to have a tough month, but at least they can rest after their match. 

    Now, I'll be breaking down my thoughts on the tournament, who I think will win, who I think should win, who the dark horse of the tournament will be and my most anticipated match.

    A Block


    Participants of the A Block
    • Kota Ibushi
    • Jeff Cobb
    • Kazuchika Okada
    • Tomohiro Ishii
    • Will Ospreay
    • Shingo Takagi
    • Minoru Suzuki
    • TAICHI
    • Jay White
    • Yujiro Takahashi

    B Block

    Participants of the B Block


    • Hiroshi Tanahashi
    • Juice Robinson
    • Hirooki Goto
    • Toru Yano
    • YOSHI-HASHI
    • Tetsuya Naito
    • SANADA
    • Zack Sabre. Jr.
    • KENTA
    • EVIL

    Most Anticipated Match

    Minoru Suzuki vs. Jeff Cobb: September 27, Kobe

    Jeff Cobb is unbelievably athletic and has the power to take down giants in wrestling. However, there is one giant whom I think even Jeff Cobb won't be able to conquer. 

    There's a reason why Minoru Suzuki's nickname is The King. Minoru Suzuki will remind us that no matter how big or how fast his opponents are, he will find a way to make them suffer—and you will sit on your chair and enjoy the brutality. 

    The two styles clashing will form an interesting mix of technical wrestling that Suzuki specializes in while Cobb specializes in power moves with the occasional high-flying moveset. We will be in for a night of hard-hitting chops with smooth technical ring work.

    The Dark Horse

    YOSHI-HASHI will, hands down, be the dark horse of the tournament. After spending years seeing his stablemates win, lose, and regain championships, he finally won the NEVER Six-Man belts with Goto and Ishii.

    The match was brutal from start to finish and I was glad to see the company's equivalent of Krillin from Dragon Ball be awarded by the company's equivalent of Goku with a well-earned championship belt.

    He has had a history of nearly achieving success until some outside factor stops him from accomplishing it. One of the saddest moments was when he slipped trying to save Okada and Tanahashi from an attack by Jay White and Gedo during the Destruction in Kobe show. YOSHI-HASHI was supposed to have this big moment of saving one of his fellow dojo brothers from Switchblade, but he ring mat and steps had other ideas.

    I think YOSHI-HASHI will make everyone realize how good he truly is in this year's G1. He was already able to deliver solid matches in the tournament before, but he is going to remind everyone why he shouldn't have been snubbed like Suzuki. YOSHI-HASHI will keep his momentum going and steal a few shows. 

    Besides, everybody loves an underdog story, and YOSHI-HASHI is the underdog of NJPW.

    G1 Final Prediction: Jay White vs SANADA

    This tournament is going to come down to who is able to get that chip off their shoulder. I think Jay White and SANADA will try to prove to everyone why they should be the G1 Climax winner.

    Who will win?

    At this point, I think it's Jay White's time to win the G1 and show the world that he can hang with the big guns of NJPW. You can't deny that he has been getting better and better in the ring every year. From his match with Okada in Madison Square Garden to his epic encounter with Kota Ibushi in G1 Climax 29, Jay White is ready to take the next step to wrestling superstardom. 

    King Switch was a finalist last year and is, technically, next in line to challenge Naito as he won the loser's match this past Wrestle Kingdom. From what I recall, the winner of the consolation match was supposed to challenge the double champion at some point. 

    I don't know if the pandemic changed the match rules, but I hope to see Jay face Naito and bring the gold back to Bullet Club.

    Jay now has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to prove to everyone that he can hang with the best. If the pandemic didn't happen, we were supposed to see Jay face Okada in the first round of the New Japan Cup.

    The pandemic prevented Jay from showcasing his talent to the world for months. Now it's time to show the world that the Switchblade is ready to remind people that he's one of the best talents in the world right now.

    Who should win

    SANADA. There is no one more deserving than the Cold Skull to become G1 Climax winner. Every year he participates in the tournament, SANADA just keeps getting better and better. Remember when he played spoiler to Okada's chances of being only the third defending heavyweight champion to win the G1? 

    That's right. SANADA proved to the world that he can beat Okada in a marathon. All we need now is for him to win the G1 and be considered a solid main eventer. I would much rather see SANADA as a singles champion in NJPW. Maybe it's the fact that he's a freelancer that prevents him from being given a solid push, but I'd like to think Gedo will be more flexible with which talent gets the title at some point. 

    Not all Dojo Boys will turn out the way they want. What makes me want to see SANADA win is the fact that he could finally take the next step in becoming a champion. Like Okada did in Wrestle Kingdom all those years back, SANADA cried when he lost to the Rainmaker after 35 minutes of competition.

    Sanada cries after losing to Okada in King of Pro-Wrestling 2019.

    I'd like to believe that Okada threw up the gesture to show that SANADA has earned his respect and is on the way to reaching the top of New Japan. Sure. Jay White is taking the Dark Okada route at the moment, but we need a beacon of light and I believe it's going to be the Cold Skull.

    G1 Closing Thoughts

    I think we're going to be in a for a wild ride for the G1 Climax 30. We won't have too many preliminary matches. Every night will follow the format of a Young Lion opening match to be followed by the G1 matches. 

    The Young Lions will definitely have the toughest experience during the tournament because they'll be wrestling then protecting the audience and setting up and breaking down the ring night after night after night. 

    Good luck to all the competitors and good luck the Young Lions the most! Now let's have a great G1 Climax 30!

    What are your thoughts on this year's tournament? Who do you think will win this year's G1 Climax? Share your thoughts below!

    Photos from NJPW

    Steven Maxwell Tan is a writer for The Geeky Juans and co-host of its podcast. He loves the Moomin franchise, the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, reading comic books and watching puroresu. You can follow him on Twitter @steviesaidyup for other geeky thoughts from his head.
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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: Our G1 Climax 30 Predictions Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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